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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE REFORMATION AND EDUCATION      193

Terence and Plautus to get a grasp of the principles of accidence
and syntax, and grammatical studies were continued even in
the highest class.

The great achievement of Melanchthon was the effective
combination of humanism and Protestantism in the education
of Northern Europe. Yet the union of the two great movements
was not brought about without some loss to both. On the side
of Protestantism, it involved a certain narrowing of the educational
ideals of the reformers. The very excellence of Melanchthon's
scholarship made him somewhat indifferent to the need for the
popular education on which Luther had rightly insisted as an
essential condition of a religious faith resting on personal belief,
and led him to omit any provision for instruction in the vernacular
in the high schools. One consequence of this omission was the
fixing of the idea that a humanistic culture must depend on a
thorough knowledge of the great writings of Greece and Rome.
In the ordinary course, the principle that the whole spiritual
life of man must be based on first-hand experience, which was
explicitly enunciated by the reformers in the case of religion,
might have been expected to lead to a recognition of the funda-
mental place of the national language and literature in any adequate
scheme, of education. The triumph of humanism through the
effort of Melanchthon and his disciples prevented this obvious
extension of the ideals of the Reformation, and made the study
of an alien culture the central interest of the higher schools for
more than three hundred years.

And humanism was no less modified—to its detriment—by its
alliance with the new religion. While Melanchthon was strongly
convinced of the unique value of the classics for education, he
was too earnest a Protestant to regard the study of them as an
end in itself. For him, as for all the northern humanists, both
Catholic and Protestant, the object of education was the pro-
duction of a lettered piety (pietas literatd). But the needs of his
country and his age compelled him, almost in spite of himself,
to throw the main emphasis on the piety rather than on the
letters ; and that speedily made itself felt in his treatment of those
elements in the classics which did not minister to piety. Not
that he found any special antagonism between their content and
his religious faith, such as in different ways had troubled Plato
and the fathers of the Christian Church. There was too great a